Keney Memorial Tower
Keney Memorial Tower was built in 1898 as a memorial to Rebecca Turner Keney, the mother of Hartford business leaders Walter and Henry Keney. The unique tower stands at the location of the Keney home and the grocery store that was operated by Rebecca Turner and her two boys after the loss of their father. The land for the tower and park was donated to the city by the Keney brothers as a memorial to their mother, and the tower was designed by architect Charles C. Haight and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Backstory and Context
The Keney brothers were especially close and had a good reputation in Hartford. They not only ran the grocery business together, they lived together, even after Walter married and moved into a house on Main Street. The brothers were highly regarded for their keen business sense and honest dealings. When Walter died in 1889, his obituary was reprinted in the New York Times, which reported that H&W Keney was the oldest business in the city and had never had a lawsuit brought against it.
Rebecca Turner Keney died in 1848 and her sons lived another five decades, with Walter's death coming in 1889 and Henry living until 1894. Henry's will included the donation of this land for the creation of Keney Park, along with a number of donations to charities. The site of the grocery store and the family home was set aside for the construction of a tower in memory of their mother.
Trustees of the Keney estate chose architect Charles C. Haight to design the memorial tower. Haight was well-known as the designer of several buildings on Yale's Old Campus. The tower was built in the Collegiate Gothic style, which was a specialty of Haight. Inside the tower is a plaque that reads: " This tower, erected to the memory of my mother, is designed to preserve from other occupancy the ground sacred to me as her home and to stand in perpetual honor to the wisdom, goodness and womanly nobility of her to whose guidance I owe my success in life and its chief joy.--Henry Keney" The tower is unique in that it is dedicated to a woman whose primary accomplishment in life is that she was a good mother.
The trustees of the Keney family deeded the tower and the park to the city of Hartford in 1924 and it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978.
By the 1990s, the grounds surrounding the tower were overgrown and the tower itself had been defaced with graffiti. The city undertook a restoration of the tower, including replacing the gold leaf on the clock face.
Keney Memorial Tower. npgallery.nps.gov. . Accessed September 23, 2018. https://npgallery.nps.gov/NRHP/GetAsset/NRHP/78002871_text.